Dynamics, rate and nature of retreat of the British Irish Ice-Sheet offshore of NW Ireland following the Last Glacial Maximum

Kasper Weilbach, Colm O'Cofaigh, Jeremy Lloyd, S. Benetti, P Dunlop

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Recent studies of the British and Irish Ice Sheet (BIIS) have identified evidence of ice extending to the continental shelf edge along the western margin of the ice sheet off NW Ireland. While this advance is assumed to have occurred during the LGM, exact timing of maximum advance, and the timing and nature of the subsequent retreat is not well constrained. The location of the north-western sector of the BIIS adjacent to the North Atlantic makes this area ideal to study the ice sheet dynamics of a major marine terminating ice sheet, and the rate and nature of its retreat following the LGM.
High resolution swath bathymetry and sub-bottom profiler (SBP) data along with sedimentological, micropalaeontological and geochronological investigations of sediment cores, collected across the NW Irish shelf, have been used to establish the extent, timing and nature of retreat of this sector of the BIIS. Swath bathymetry show glacial landforms on the shelf, and SBP-data along with twenty seven vibro-cores were collected in east-west oriented transects across a series of arcuate recessional moraines stretching from the shelf edge to Donegal Bay. These moraines record progressive still stands of a lobate ice margin during its retreat from the shelf edge, and are therefore ideal for the investigation of ice-sheet dynamics and chronology during retreat.

Twenty two radiocarbon dates from foraminifera and macrofossils, sampled from the sediment cores, indicate that maximum ice sheet extent occurred around ~26200 y cal BP, with an initial rapid retreat across the shelf. Visual logging, X-ray imagery, MSCL data and palaeoenvironmental analyses of the sediment cores, indicate that retreat happened in a glacimarine environment, and was punctuated by multiple stillstands and possible readvances across the mid and inner shelf, forming the arcuate moraines. The radiocarbon dates suggest that final retreat occurred after 17857 y. cal BP, which is consistent with onshore cosmogenic exposure ages from NW Ireland, showing de-glaciation around 17400 y cal BP.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 16 Dec 2016
EventAmerican Geophysical Union: Fall Meeting - Moscone Center, San Francisco, United States
Duration: 12 Dec 201616 Dec 2016


ConferenceAmerican Geophysical Union
Abbreviated titleAGU Fall Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • British Irish Ice Sheet
  • moraines
  • foraminifera
  • Deglaciation
  • Donegal


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